There is a lot discussion about the ENnie Award nominations recently - I have no problem with the awards and those nominated no doubt deserve the attention and acclaim they get.
What concerns me is that in the 'Best Free RPG' category, three out of the five games are quick-start rules, designed to give the player a taster of a larger commercial product.
Personally, I don't think this is fair. If the game is to be judged it should be done so on the merits of the final product and not on it's advertising methods. People who create free RPGs with no other intention than to distribute their work to the RPG community are doing so on their own time and talent. Quick-start rules are going to have the professional backing and talent of the company that created the full game so they are almost bound to have higher production values, and they will also have a (no doubt highly deserved) large fan base attached, much larger than fans of an independantly produced and truly free RPG.
So this creates a problem. I have no problem with quick-start rules - in fact, I think they're an excellent idea - but do they belong in the same nomination category as a truly free RPG? I don't think so. If anything they should be nominated for best RPG and that's it. If they were in both categories then, technically, you'd be voting for the same game twice.
This is being discussed on Rob Lang's blog here.
Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG blog has a few opinions here.
Stargazer's World has a thing or two to say about it here.
Over at 1KM1KT a representative of the ENnies has gotten involved with the debate here.
I think it's too late to do anything about it this year, but hopefully the nature of the topic will be considered for next year's awards.